2022 has been a massive year for the energy sector, and I don’t say that lightly. It is an industry founded on commercial and technical ingenuity. An industry which repeatedly rises to the challenge. The most recent challenge is the balancing act between energy security, climate change, social justice and the rising cost of living on the global agenda.
The commonality here? Skills and jobs.
When X-Academy, the world’s first energy transition career development initiative, was conceived in 2021, governments and industries across the globe were united in their stance to take immediate action on climate change. The momentum then was enough for X-Academy’s partners to support the idea that putting the meaningful impact of tackling climate change first would help to develop the next generation of professionals for the energy sector.
2022 was anticipated to be the year of progress towards net zero.
We were right about that. But we had not anticipated energy security entering the global spotlight, nor the response from the industry. We have entered a perfect storm where, for what seems like the first time ever, all components of the energy sector have two things in common.
Firstly, everyone recognises that the answer to climate change, the answer to energy security, the answer to social justice and the answer to keeping energy prices down, is the need for more decarbonisation-enabling technology to be deployed, not only at a great scale but also at a great pace.
Secondly, the sum of this impetus is the ever-imperfect aspect of a perfect storm, an explosion of demand for relevant skills and experience. A recent report published by Robert Gordon’s University highlighted that to fill this growing gap in the Nort East alone, a further 40,000 people must be deployed into the energy industry by 2030.
The skills shortage is not a new phenomenon in itself. The gap in experienced capacity has the capability to bring this industry to breaking point.
Scotland alone will, in only a few years’ time, reach decision points to invest in tens of gigawatts of offshore wind construction, possibly coinciding with the evolving demand for hydrogen, the increase in carbon capture and storage projects, new upstream oil and gas, new grid infrastructure and potentially a peak in oil and gas decommissioning activity. When these projects are sanctioned, it will not be the availability of university leavers that is the problem, but the availability of people with relevant delivery experience.
Clearly our industry, and our world around us, are incredibly dynamic. Whilst creating change now is important, if we can tailor our approach, curating an experience that allows people to prepare for any scenario they may encounter not only today, but in 30 years’ time, we can create a meaningful impact.
This was the concept behind X-Academy when I first envisioned the programme in 2021, as a facilitator for creating significant and sustainable change. We are bridging the experience gap, whilst implementing a mindset change in how we future proof our workforce.
In December, we celebrated our third award win of the year at the Scottish Green Energy Awards, a feat that I hadn’t dreamt possible 12 months prior. The reaction from industry to the impact that X-Academy has made in such a short space of time has been incredible.
Having employed 26 people on to our two-year programme, secured key industry partners as well as our award wins highlighting our hard work, X-Academy is on an upward trajectory that shows no signs of decelerating.
Supporting people from all walks of life, whether graduates, early career professionals or those with established careers with a desire to transition into the renewable energy sector, we are working alongside operators to deliver driven and passionate workers who are ready to make an impact on real-life energy transition challenges.
By providing each cohort with an in-depth understanding of the energy mix of the future, we supply them with the resources to tackle the world’s most pressing climate challenges today, while preparing them to become the energy leaders of tomorrow.
We have already seen them make a big difference across clean energy projects that they are currently working across such as the world-leading Innovation and Targeted Oil and Gas (INTOG) leasing round and the planned leasing round in Celtic Sea. Both leasing rounds represent the cutting edge of future floating wind.
As stakeholders across the globe begin to take notice of the impactful work being delivered by X-Academy, we are well on the road to expansion. With McKinsey research estimating that by 2030, roughly 14% of the global workforce will need to pivot their skillsets to accommodate the shifting energy landscape.
Organisations world-wide are seeing a challenge in their capacity to deliver against energy transition targets without a significant increase or reskilling of their workforce, and X-Academy can offer a solution. We have already started to make real impact on energy transition projects in Japan, Australia and the US, nations that have highlighted an increasing demand for skills transition initiatives.
As 2022 comes to a close, we are preparing to make great strides in supporting nations that have highlighted an increasing demand for skills transition initiatives in the new year. X-Academy is currently in talks to grow its presence, with the skills programme set to opens its doors in Australia and the US, supporting global action against climate change.